Posts Tagged ‘Sonoma Coast

18
Apr
11

a day at failla

Our trip to Wine Country began early Friday morning as we checked out of our hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf and into an estate car back to the airport to pick up the rental car (one of the limitations of booking with United Miles). From there it was a fairly easy drive over the Bay Bridge and up I80 through Oakland, with a quick job over to 29. We stayed at the new Best Western Ivy Hotel at the northern end of Napa. After we checked in and got settled we headed to our first winery of the trip: Failla. This a beautiful little winery nestled at the base of the mountains in the Northeastern corner of St. Helena off the Silverado Trail.When we arrived we were greeted like old friends. On the walls of the entry way stood proud but empty reminders of festive holiday parties past, including old Failla Jordan labels (would have loved to have been able try one of those Syrahs!). We were taken into what will eventually be the living room of the family home once the new caves and tasting rooms are completed just up the hill. The feeling was very warm and cozy with a large river rock fireplace and a decidedly Adirondack feel!


The river rock fire place.


A view if the porch.

We were to be joined by one other couple, so while we waited we were poured some of their 2009 Sonoma Coast Chard, which was just lovely with nice pear notes and a lovely and crisp acidic finish. Since Erhen Jordan spent quite a bit of time making wine in Rhone, his wines are decidedly Old World in personality with a nice balance of New World terroir. We were also treated to a taste of their very limited production (185 cases) 2009 Edna Valley Viognier, Alban Vineyard, of which the French Laundry gets but one case! It had a wonderfully floral nose and bright yet round palate and clean finish. I would have bought a bottle if they had any! Once the other couple arrived we got to revisit the Chard and tasted two Pinots and a Syrah.


The Chard and Viognier.

Both of the Pinots were exceptional. The first to be tasted was the 2009 Sonoma Stage that had a nose of autumn leaf and spice, with a rich, lush and spicy palate. The tannins were silky smooth and the finish lingered on like a fond memory of camping on a brisk fall weekend. The second Pinot we tasted (and the one we brought home) was the 2007 Peay Vineyard, which hails from the Sonoma Coast near Mendocino. The nose was ripe with spiced cherries and hints of leafy smoke. The mouth was treated to a lush palate of red fruits and velvety tannins and a finish that brings tart cranberry and crisp strawberry flavours. The last wine we tasted was the 2009 Phoenix Ranch Syrah, which I absolutely loved with it’s big warm nose of spiced dark fruits and sweet tobacco leaf and rich palate of plum and blackberries, aggressive tannins and velvety chocolate finish.


The tasting line up.


The spoils of tasting.


Sipping the Peay Vineyard pool side.


The Estate Chardonnay enjoyed at home.

If ever there was a way to kick off a weekend in wine country this was definitely it and we can’t wait to return. Not only to taste more of Failla’s wonderful wines but also see the new caves and perhaps sit on the inviting porch and sip some vino in the crisp and clean St. Helena air. Visit them online at Failla Wines

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15
Nov
10

Pinot Days Chicago 2010

If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending one of these events, either here in Chicago or elsewhere, I highly recommend that you do! For the nominal fee of $50 one is offered over 300 different Pinots from close to 70 different wineries from the Central Coast all the way up to Willamette Valley! I have to admit that one can be a bit overwhelmed when entering for the first time; the Festival Hall at Navy Pier is huge and the buzz in the air, electric! But with a game plan it quickly becomes very welcoming and when you reach a table almost intimate as well. I was quite pleasantly surprised that, despite the large number of attendees, the wait to get to a table was not at all bad. So, our game plan was to hit all the wineries that we just had to taste and then fill in the gaps after that and it worked quite well.

By the end of the even we had tasted nearly 50 different Pinots but I’m only going to talk about the highlights and the standouts. In no particular order of course.

Our first stop was at J Vineyards where they had two Pinots to try. First was their 2007 RRV, which was smooth, elegant and structured, showing spiced cherry flavors and silky tannins. The second Pinot was their 2006 Single Vineyard, which was bigger in body and flavours but had more savoury earth notes that added that extra dimension.

At the Domaine Chandon table we were surprised with a 2008 still Pinot Meunier from their Carneros vineyards. This was my first time having a Pinot Meunier and a single varietal still wine and I was very, very impressed. Deeper in colour and darker in fruit profile, this wine exhibited a rich and lush palate that had wonderful earth tones, structure and balance.

Right nest door to Chandon was DeLoach who not only offered up four of their best Pinots they also offered a barrel taste of their newest vintage, which hasn’t gone to market yet. You could tell it was still quite young but it was still quite smooth even with the green wood notes that hovered in the mid-palate.

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I had to make a stop by the Goldeneye table as they were part of our wine makers class last year at Just Grapes and the 2006 Anderson Valley they were pouring did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination! It was a classic style Pinot with w hint of old world using only French oak casks (35% new and a the balance being seasoned no older that two seasons).

Okay, let’s talk Merry Edwards! They had two offerings: the 2007 Sonoma Coast, which was basic but not boring but the 2007 Flax Vineyard, Russian River Valley Pinot was outstanding!

Next door was Martinelli, which offered up their 2007 Lolita Ranch Russian River Valley and my personal fav on that table the 2008 Moonshine Ranch Russian River Valley, which was as the rep (A Martinelli herself) said, “It’s like Christmas in a glass!” Which could not have been a more accurate statement. It had this lovely deep ruby colour and a nose full of warm baking spices that led into a palate of spiced red berries and cranberries and finished warm and spicy, with really smooth tannins.

Failla was one of the newer wineries and by no means an underdog. Their Pinots from Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley were exceptional!

The last one I’m going to talk about was hands down both mine and my girlfriend’s favourite of the night! The Fog Crest 2008 Laguna West, Russian River Valley Pinot was rich with cherry and plum flavours balanced by warm spicy notes. Soft tannins provide wonderful structure and the finish lingers on and on with dark fruit and cola notes! Fog Crest got it’s start in 1998 with South/East facing slopes and sandstone soils that provide the ideal growing conditions for Pinot and Chardonnay. So, if you haven’t had the pleasure of trying Fog Crest I highly urge you to do so.

http://www.fogcrestvineyard.com/

After nearly four hours of tasting it was time to eat so we finished the night off at Cafe Iberico for some amazing Tapas and a bottle of the 2006 Campo Viejo Crianza, Rioja!

Pinot Days is, as I said, an amazing event that should be attended by everyone and anyone who loves West Coast Pinots! I know we’ll be going back next year!

27
Oct
10

La Crema the crop

When I got home last night the GF surprised me with a nice bottle of this:

2008 – La Crema, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
This is a very well-balanced PN with bright red berry and spice notes on the nose followed by a rich and smooth palate of raspberries and red cherry with perfect elements of spice and soft tannins. The finish was equally smooth and I even detected notes of light chocolate. Out of all the bottlings from La Crema, the Sonoma Coast is by far better than the Monterey offering, which to me was too leathery, bordering on black rubber on the nose. We feel in love with this bottle while in San Fran last April. And for $19.99 at Trader Joe’s it’s not too bad a buy either.